Social Democrats support occupation movement and call for nationwide freeze on rents

The Social Democrats have said they support the occupation movement and that a two-year nationwide freeze on rents is also needed to help ease the housing crisis.

Speaking in Leinster House, party co-founder Roisin Shortall said large firms were still hiking up rents, making them unaffordable for tenants.

To counter this and amid the housing emergency, the Dublin North West TD has called for a total freeze on rent increases to stem the flow of low and middle-income earners into homelessness.

“We are now in a position wherein the Dublin region people are paying in the region of 50% of their take-home pay for rent. That is entirely unsustainable.

Ms Shortall maintains that the rent caps in certain areas and zones are not working. Investment firms or real estate investment trusts (REITS) were “not respecting” those government-introduced rent pressure zones, she claimed. The rent cap rules also did not apply to the whole country, it was added.

Rents in Waterford were going up by 19% while Limerick was experiencing increases of 21, she said.

Ms Shortall said she believed the freeze measure would not scare off landlords. Instead, it was an emergency measure needed for two years, the Social Democrats TD argued.

Ms Shortall also said the party supported the occupation movement, which has seen communities take over empty properties in Dublin city. While not condoning the illegal act of occupying those empty units, Ms Shortall explained:

“Government must take action to bring all possible properties into use.

“Clearly people who are directly affected by the housing crisis are taking action, they are taking to the streets and that is perfectly understandable. That is a legitimate protest in our view, Many of our members were out the other night supporting the Take Back the City protest.

“We are supportive of that campaign, yes indeed,” she said.

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